Game #9-021: Northern Arizona at UNLV RebelsNovember 12, 2012 10:00 pm
Perhaps the greatest thing about the start of basketball season is the freshness to everything. Before the tip off, everybody has a chance. New players bring promise. New coaches bring potential greatness. Last year is over. It's done. Old news.
Players have moved on: been traded (transferred), graduated or just did not make it. Whatever the situation, fan bases, alumni and ultimately teams can stand at midcourt for their first game and know they control their own destiny.
Northern Arizona traveled to Las Vegas to face the (my) UNLV Runnin' Rebels in one of the first games of something called the Global Sports Classic. I can't tell you what is global about it. Looking at the teams participating in this non-conference tournament thingy, it seems damn American, not really global.
Northern Arizona lost by 10 to Oregon in the first round of this globally-epic event on Saturday. The Lumberjacks lost to UNLV tonight by 38 points. It was a game for the first 12 or so minutes of the first half. After UNLV raced out to a 11-2 lead to start the game, NAU decided to throw a punch back, and the Runnin' Rebels weren't ready for it. Gabe Rodgers took, AND MADE, three superhoops all within a few minutes to force UNLV to call time out leading only 26-20.
Now, Northern Arizona is coming off a 5-24 season. Losing games like that has to do something to you. What doesn't help rectify that is a short bench. You can play games to 26-20 at the start, but finishing is going to be difficult. The never-ending ball pressure and deep UNLV bench outlasted the Lumberjacks' retaliatory spurt and NAU walked into the locker room at halftime down 23-45.
After UNLV came out to score the first five quick points of the second half, and the broken and bleeding finger of senior forward Ephraim Ekanem would keep one of NAU's only big men on the bench, the game was basically done. The threes would not continue to fall for Rogers, and wouldn't fall for a host of others. The length of the Runnin' Rebels always got to a loose ball a second sooner than the rest on the floor.